Bill Hobson cooked up a plan with Sealy ISD officials and after simmering for four years it was finally ready to serve students on Wednesday afternoon.
The Tiger Café, a new state of the art culinary kitchen, was dedicated with a ribbon cutting ceremony at Sealy High School. Hobson and his wife Loma were joined by various school and district officials and culinary students for a ribbon cutting, followed by a kitchen tour and then the breaking of bread in the kitchen’s first buffet line.
“These guys along with our former superintendent Sheryl Moore, they really had a vision and now it’s here. We’re excited about today. This is a huge opportunity for our kids,” said Principal Megan Oliver.
“I’d just like to thank the staff, the administration, the school board, Sheryl Moore, (culinary advisor) Angela (Gutowsky), Megan (Oliver),” Hobson said. “Four years ago, I asked Megan and Sheryl Moore to come out to the house. I had something I thought might put Sealy on the radar, that’s exactly what I said. They were very curious what was gonna come out of my mouth. Anyway, it was my idea to have a culinary school and we wanted to make a donation to get it started.”
His $100,000 donation was matched by the Mark A. Chapman Foundation and served as seed money for construction of the $1.6 million kitchen that replaced the home economics kitchen at the school.
“I want to thank the school board. I spoke to the school board about this and thought it might get pushed under the rug,” Hobson said. “(Board President) Ryan (Reichardt) let me talk twice that night, which is unheard of. I thank the people in our vicinity here; we went though some kitchens here to see what we were up against. We toured in Katy and saw their Taj Mahal. I had no idea that we’d get a bigger Taj Mahal.”
“Thank you, thank you, thank you. I cannot tell you all thank you enough,” said culinary advisor Angela Gutowsky.
She said she has enjoyed watching her students adapt from working in a small kitchen to a commercial kitchen.
“It has been so incredibly exciting watching them go from the small home ec kitchen last year to this magnificent commercial set-up and watching them grow and connect with it so quickly has been huge,” she said.
Hobson, a Texas State University alumnus, was offered a job with an investment company right out of school providing he get military experience. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and trained as a cook.
While on a recent visit at a hospital, Hobson said a realized the importance of what the students will be learning in the kitchen.
“It dawned on me that this is what this place is about. Hospitals, nursing homes, schools, restaurants, you can go on and on about who needs somebody to fix them a meal,” he said.